This is a departure from my previous two posts; it’s not about a particular group that has pulled away from the GOP. Romney pulled a slightly larger share of older voters than McCain did, even if fewer total turned out than in previous years. That the Romney-Ryan ticket did this while proposing entitlement reform is a substantial feat, but it did involve watering down the reforms a great deal. For example, Republicans now make a habit of promising that nobody under age 55 will be affected by their reforms.
Why make this concession when the lion’s share of the fiscal problem is current retirees and the many, many Baby Boomers who will retire soon? Boomers vote, of course, but what motivates them? I don’t think most seniors could bring themselves to act on straightforward greed; I think they’re voting based on a particular concept of fairness.
Specifically, they paid into the system over a long career, and they believe they should be able to get back what they paid in. And even though current Medicare beneficiaries get two to six times as much in benefits as they paid in (if this is right), only about a third of Americans think Medicare beneficiaries get any more than they paid in. As long as they think that way, they’ll continue to oppose means testing and raising the retirement age by wide margins.
You might be tempted to say that our task is to educate them, but it’s much easier to persuade people based on their current beliefs than to convince them of inconvenient facts first. Republicans basically conceded that cutting benefits to older voters at all would be unfair, and pushed complicated plans that few people aside from Paul Ryan can competently defend.
But we might be even bolder if we just hugged that core fairness principle tighter.
September’s Reason-Rupe poll (PDF – fixed link) asked Americans if they’d support cuts to their own Medicare benefits “if you were guaranteed to receive benefits at least equal to the amount of money that you and your employer contribute into the system.” It was a blowout: 68% yes, 25% no. Three quarters of Tea Partiers said yes.
At a stroke, you could slash Medicare in half with a reform based on that principle. (Their August 2011 poll suggested similar support for applying the principle to Social Security, but the cuts would be much more modest.)
Centering a reform on that principle achieves steeper cuts and seems easier to defend than what Paul Ryan is trying. Because if Democrats fought us on it, they’d have to make the wildly unpopular case for entitlements as redistribution programs rather than as “insurance” or “savings.”
The kind of coalition the Right needs for sustainable entitlement reform has to include people who highly value fairness (or, as Jonathan Haidt would call it, proportionality). If we want the project of liberty to be successful, we have to pluck on other heartstrings.
John Podhoretz mentions something we’ve been talking about for a while:
If Mitt Romney wins tonight, it’ll likely be because of something revealed by a little-noticed statistic released yesterday by the polling firm Rasmussen — following a similar statistic last week from Gallup.
Rasmussen revealed that for the month of October, its data showed that among likely voters, the electorate is 39 percent Republican and 33 percent Democratic.
This comes from a survey of 15,000 people taken over the course of a month. Yes, 15,000 people —15 times the number in a statistically significant poll.
This number might be discounted, since Rasmussen has a reputation as leaning Republican. Except that last week, Gallup — the oldest and most reputable national pollster — released its party ID survey of 9,424 likely voters. And it came out 36 percent Republican, 35 percent Democrat.
I’m not at all comfy with R+6 from Rasmussen. But what should be taken away from this is the fact that two major polling firms have surveyed likely voters extensively and come up with similar results about the mix of self-identified Republicans and Democrats. And what they’ve found is a profound shift from 2008.
Why does this matter? Check history:
Because never in the history of polling, dating back to 1936, have self-identified Republicans outnumbered Democrats on Election Day. Never. Ever.
Hmmm. So indies are breaking for Romney by 7 points, 13% of those who voted for Obama last time say they’re not going to vote for him this time and for the first time since 1936 we’re pretty sure that it is R+something, but Obama is going to win?
Excuse us for being skeptical again, but sometimes the “numbers” just don’t add up. And, then, as we’ve mentioned, there are the atmospherics, something polling companies really don’t plug into at all. Sometimes, as in 2010, the gut comes through because the brain has assimilated a lot more than the numbers provided and ends up with a conclusion that is contrary to the conventional wisdom.
I still believe this is one of those times.
If you haven’t read Karl Rove’s analysis of the election, you ought too. Yeah, I know, Rove is partisan and all of that, but, like Michael Barone (who, by the way, has predicted a Romney win), he knows election demographics.
Rove makes a point that seems to be missed by a lot of people or, perhaps, ignored instead:
He maintains a small but persistent polling edge. As of yesterday afternoon, there had been 31 national surveys in the previous seven days. Mr. Romney led in 19, President Obama in seven, and five were tied. Mr. Romney averaged 48.4%; Mr. Obama, 47.2%. The GOP challenger was at or above 50% in 10 polls, Mr. Obama in none.
The number that may matter the most is Mr. Obama’s 47.2% share. As the incumbent, he’s likely to find that number going into Election Day is a percentage point or so below what he gets.
Why is that significant?
For example, in 2004 President George W. Bush had 49% in the final Gallup likely-voter track; he received 50.7% on Election Day. In 1996, President Clinton was at 48% in the last Gallup; he got 49.2% at the polls. And in 1992, President George H.W. Bush was at 37% in the closing Gallup; he collected 37.5% in the balloting.
If you can’t get above 47%, and your challenger is running above that number, chances are you aren’t going to win.
Then there are the polling demographics. Remember when I said that if a poll has D+ anything, it is likely wrong? I stand by that:
One potentially dispositive question is what mix of Republicans and Democrats will show up this election. On Friday last week, Gallup hinted at the partisan makeup of the 2012 electorate with a small chart buried at the end of its daily tracking report. Based on all its October polling, Gallup suggested that this year’s turnout might be 36% Republican to 35% Democratic, compared with 39% Democratic and 29% Republican in 2008, and 39% Republican and 37% Democratic in 2004. If accurate, this would be real trouble for Mr. Obama, since Mr. Romney has consistently led among independents in most October surveys.
So, assuming Gallup is right, and it is R+1 as we’ve been saying is likely here, what does that mean for the polling that’s going on?
Take a look at this handy little chart from RCP:
The chart makes the point about how important it is for the polling company to get the mix correct and the probability that many of them haven’t. If they’re not properly skewed, you aren’t going to get valid results. We know there are still polls being run out there with D+5 and up to D+8. Those were legitimate in 2008.
This ain’t 2008 (and you have to ignore 2010 to believe it is) by a long shot.
Then there’s this:
Gallup delivered some additional bad news to Mr. Obama on early voting. Through Sunday, 15% of those surveyed said they had already cast a ballot either in person or absentee. They broke for Mr. Romney, 52% to 46%. The 63% who said they planned to vote on Election Day similarly supported Mr. Romney, 51% to 45%.
So, what is happening is the Democrats are getting their most motivated voters to the polls early and they’re still running behind the GOP. If, in fact, that’s the case, then who will the Dems be trying to turn out on Tuesday and how successful will they be? It all comes down to enthusiasm, doesn’t it? And as measured, that too resides on the side of the GOP (well, except for the NYT poll, unsurprisingly):
Finally, while looking that that chart, remember that independents have been breaking large toward Romney. More than for any GOP candidate in recent history. Add all the other demographics that have shifted significant support from Obama in the last election to Romney in this one, not to mention the atmospherics that simply aren’t there for the incumbent and it is difficult to believe that Obama will win.
So, all that said, I’ll predict a Romney win with slightly over 50% and around 279 electoral votes. I’ll also predict that Nate Silver will be donating $1,000 to charity and David Axlerod’s mustache will be absent Wednesday of next week.
UPDATE: A reminder for all the doubters out there who want to dismiss Rove – In 2008 Karl Rove predicted an Obama win with 338 EVs (actual: 365)
What is spin and what is fact out there right now? Well, if I had to guess, we’re in the 80 to 90% factor when talking about spin. Both campaigns are heavily engaged in trying to convince the public that the election is as they say it is.
One of the more persistent bits of spin has been “early voting has heavily favored Obama”.
I’m not sure how those who were tossing that little nugget out there were so sure, but that’s been the story. And obviously, it’s intent was to calm the waters, make it appear that Obama was in control and that his base was enthusiastic and out supporting him at the voting booth.
Except it seems it may have been just that – spin.
Hmmm. That doesn’t at all track with the Obama spin does it? In fact, it’s not even close. The report says 15% of registered voters have voted. And at this point, at least according to Gallup, Romney leads 52 to 46. If true, that points to two problems for the Obama campaign (beside the fact that their claim seems to be hogwash) – 1) enthusiasm and 2) GOTV effort. Not so hot in either category, huh?
Yes, I know, there are all kinds of things that can be said about this, with “whys” and “wherefores”, caveats and whatever.
However, given this, one thing should be clear – when the Obama campaign again claims they’re leading in early voting, they’ll have to come up with something to counter this, won’t they?
And, speaking of spin, one could argue that perhaps … perhaps … the early voting indicates the possible outcome and it’s percentage.
It’s rather simple really. And the Washington Post provides the answer today:
In the last three releases of the tracking poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News, Obama has trailed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney among independent voters by between 16 and 20 percentage points.
That’s a striking reversal from 2008, when Obama won independent voters, who made up 29 percent of the electorate, by eight points over Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
And if Romney’s large margin among independents holds, it will be a break not just from 2008 but also from 2000 and 2004. In 2000, Texas Gov. George W. Bush won independents by 47 percent to 45 percent over Vice President Al Gore. Four years later, Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts essentially split unaffiliated voters, according to exit polls — 48 percent for Bush to 49 percent for Kerry. (Independents made up 27 percent of the vote in 2000 and 26 percent in 2004.)
It is more than a “striking reversal”, it is an indicator of what other major demographics are demonstrating as well. A big shift away from Obama. So one of two things has to be true – the polls showing these big demographic shifts away from Obama are wrong, or the polls showing this to be a tight race with Obama slightly ahead or behind have to be wrong. They can’t both be right.
When you add in the “atmospherics”, it is hard to believe this is a tight race. The enthusiasm for Obama isn’t there (and certainly not at all like it was in 2008), apparently the major demographics aren’t there and finally, even in the polls that do show a close race, the trend continues to be up for Romney.
It still isn’t clear what demographic model the polls are using, but as I said in the podcast last night, if it is skewed with D+ anything, it is likely wrong. If I had to guess I’d say a poll that isn’t skewing at least R+1 isn’t even in the same galaxy as this election. The atmospherics, demographics and momentum, whether the left or MSM wants to admit it or not, are on the side of the GOP. My guess is this doesn’t end up being a close election and that Democrats are not going to be happy with the outcome.
Michael Barone is one of the few poll watchers I respect. I’ve watched him in any number of elections and he’s objectively called it the way he saw it, usually spot on, for whomever the facts indicated was in the lead. No spin, just good analysis.
Well, in this season of polling chaos, Barone is out with his look at some of the key indicators that help him analyze election trends and he seems to think we are seeing a preference cascade begin ala 1980 … just slower:
My other alternative scenario was based on the 1980 election, when vast numbers of voters switched from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan after their single debate one week before the election. In that debate, the challenger showed he had presidential stature and the incumbent president seemed petulant and small-minded.
We saw an even more vivid contrast between challenger and incumbent in the Oct. 3 debate. In the next two debates, Obama was definitely more focused and aggressive. But Romney held his own, and post-Oct. 16 polling showed him improving his standing even though many debate watchers thought Obama won on points.
What we may be seeing, as we drink from the firehose of multiple poll results pouring in, is a slow-motion 1980.
That reinforces my point about the first debate and something we’ve been saying since Oct. 3. That is the debate that mattered. And note also that in debates 2 and 3, Obama pulled a Carter. His stature was diminished by his actions. He, as Barone and many others have observed, came across as “petulant and small-minded”. Add arrogant and condescending, and you’ve captured it. Oh, and by the way, his record, like Carter’s, is dismal.
Romney, on the other hand, came across exactly as he had to come across – competent, presidential, confident and, believe it or not, likable. He did what Ronald Reagan did – unfiltered by the media, he was able to convince Americans who tuned in that he was Presidential material. That he was a more than acceptable alternative to Obama.
All of that said, Barone isn’t claiming that this is a done deal by any stretch (“don’t get cocky kid”):
The usual caveats are in order. Exogenous events could affect opinion (Libya seems to have hurt Obama). The Obama ground game is formidable. Voters who switched to Romney could switch back again.
And if there is a larger reservoir of potentially changeable voters than in 2004, there was an even larger reservoir back in 1980, when Carter attracted white Southerners who now are firmly in Romney’s column.
Mechanical analogies can be misleading. Just because Romney has gained ground since Oct. 3 does not guarantee that he will gain more.
But also keep in mind that Romney gained not just from style but from fundamentals. Most voters dislike Obama’s domestic policies and are dissatisfied with the sluggish economy. And now they seem to believe have an alternative with presidential stature.
So, while we apparently have a preference cascade beginning, is it enough? And will it peak at the right time. Will it be a slow steady climb to election day? Will it plateau? Will it stop short of the majority Romney needs? Obviously we won’t know that until election night (or, perhaps, the next day). But suffice it to say, the upward trend is obvious.
How it will play out, however, remains to be seen.
I wanted to make a quick point here. First this:
Mitt Romney has taken a narrow national lead, tightened the gender gap and expanded his edge over President Barack Obama on who would best grow the economy.
A new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Tracking Poll of 1,000 likely voters — taken from Sunday through Thursday of last week — shows Romney ahead of Obama by 2 percentage points, 49 percentage to 47 percent. That represents a 3-point swing in the GOP nominee’s direction from a week ago but is still within the margin of error. Obama led 49 percent to 48 percent the week before.
A lot of discussion on polls this time around. We talked about them extensively in the podcast. The thing to realize is regardless of how the polling concerns have set up their split among self-identified Republicans and Democrats, the one thing that has been fairly consistent in each of them is Romney trending up. So while they may all show different percentages and even an Obama lead, the fact remains that the challenger has continued to gain even while the incumbent was declared the winner of the last debate.
That, my friends, signifies, at least as far as I can tell, a preference cascade beginning to swell.
As we’ve pointed out repeatedly, the most important debate this year was the first debate. In that debate, the challenger had to appear to be an acceptable alternative/replacement for the incumbent. Romney was able to exceed expectations in that department. That’s when the tide began to turn. The second debate, while somewhat important, but only if the challenger really goofed it up, just didn’t carry the weight of the first. And as hard as the left has tried to make the debates about Big Bird, binders of women and an alleged “Libya gaffe” (as I see it, there was no gaffe at all, we saw an incumbent President pretend/allege he said something he didn’t say). They’re not selling except among the partisan base.
We’ll see if this debate this evening adds momentum to the challengers upward trend or whether the incumbent is somehow able to slow or stop it. I’m not sure what the President could say or do that would accomplish that given his dismal foreign policy record (and his previous declaration that his lack of foreign policy experience just wasn’t a show stopper).
Like Dale says, I think, as far as Romney is concerned, we’re in “dead girl or live boy” territory.
Good question really. I know who most media outlets have declared the winner, but frankly, my guess is that was written before the debate. After all, given his last performance it’s hard to conceive how President Obama could have done worse. And given the low expectations, exceeding them was going to look like a “win” or at least be portrayed like one. The media loves “comeback kid” story lines.
Of course there was the usual grousing about the moderator, in this case, Candy Crowley. Some is to be expected. Some, in this case, was warranted. What is the job of a moderator? Well, what it isn’t is to provide “instant fact-checking”, especially when the fact check is incorrect. Moderators should be like referees or umpires – all but invisible while they keep the debate to the rules. However, when you pick people with large egos and biases to “moderate”, well, don’t be surprised when they make every attempt to insert themselves in things of which they have no business being a part.
However, to the main point. Who ‘won’?
Well a CBS instapoll says Obama won. Of course CBS was the only poll that said Joe Biden won so, yeah, not such a great endorsement. And the “win” was marginal at best, even with CBS.
In a CBS News poll, 37 percent of 525 uncommitted voters who watched the debate declared Obama the winner, compared to 30 percent who said the same of Romney; 33 percent said it was a tie.
CNN’s instant poll also gave the “win” to Obama (46/39 – registered voters).
Well, I guess, unless you look at some of the other numbers in the polls. And then, well, not so much:
Despite Obama’s slight edge overall, Romney was seen as better able to handle most issues.
The trend was most notable in the CNN poll: he had an 18-point edge among registered voters on the economy (58 percent to Obama’s 40 percent ); a 3-point edge on health care (49 percent to 46 percent); a 7-point edge on taxes (51 percent to 44 percent); and, largest of all, a 23-point edge on the deficit (59 percent to 36 percent).
Obama’s only lead in the CNN poll was a slim one on foreign policy: 2 percent more of the registered voters who watched the debate said he would handle the issue better (49 percent to 47 percent for Romney).
In the CBS poll, 65 percent of respondents also said Romney would handle the economy better after the debate (though that decreased from 71 percent before the debate). Only 34 percent said Obama would handle the economy better, but that was a jump of 7 percentage points.
Personal metrics were split a bit more evenly. Forty-nine percent of those in the CNN poll said Romney was the stronger leader, compared to 46 percent for Obama. The president still had a lead on likeability by a margin of 47 percent to 41 percent. He was also perceived as caring more about the audience by a margin of 4 points, but also as spending more time on the attack by a 14-points one.
Among uncommitted voters surveyed in the CBS poll, 56 percent said the president would do a better job of helping the middle class, compared to only 43 percent who said the same of Romney.
So wait … are we voting on who did better in a debate, or who would do a better job as President?
Oh, that’s right, this is about the job, isn’t it?
The final word from the CNN respondents? Twenty-five percent said the debate made them more likely to vote for Romney, and 25 percent said the same for Obama.
So who “won”?
Hmm … yes, if I was the Obama campaign brain-trust, I’d be worried too.
Oh, and in the third debate, Obama won’t have the benefit of low expectations working for him and, hopefully, we’ll see a debate where “moderation” means “referee”, not “instant but wrong fact checker“.
Funny stuff. All of us out here who have been questioning the accuracy of various presidential polls and being called “poll truthers” (lord help you if you question the establishment or authority) now see a poll that favors the GOP candidate being called into question by none other than the Washington Post.
The Pew Research Center for the Public and the Press released a poll that puts Mitt Romney in the lead for the first time in their polling (Rasmussen also released a poll with Romney in the lead).
The Pew poll keys off the first debate, Romney’s big win and says:
In turn, Romney has drawn even with Obama in the presidential race among registered voters (46% to 46%) after trailing by nine points (42% to 51%) in September. Among likely voters, Romney holds a slight 49% to 45% edge over Obama. He trailed by eight points among likely voters last month.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Oct. 4-7 among 1,511 adults, including 1,201 registered voters (1,112 likely voters), finds that 67% of Romney’s backers support him strongly, up from 56% last month. For the first time in the campaign, Romney draws as much strong support as does Obama.
“Likely voters”, as we’ve mentioned in the past, is the key demographic. Forget registered voters. Among likely voters, Pew is recording a 12 point swing. That’s pretty significant. You can hit the Pew link to go through all the particulars.
So what’s WaPo’s disagreement with the poll? Well they don’t really “disagree” so much as imply there might be a problem with the poll’s makeup (you know, the same thing we “poll truthers” have been talking about for months):
That pesky party ID question: The Pew sample for this poll was 36 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 30 percent independent. That’s a major shift from the organization’s September poll which was 29 percent Republican, 39 percent Democratic and 30 percent independent. In the 2010 election, the electorate was 36 percent Republican, 36 percent Democratic and 27 percent independent, according to exit polling. In 2008, 39 percent of the electorate identified as Democrats while 32 percent said they were Republicans and 29 percent said they were independents.
So in this poll, Pew was R+5. That’s different than the D+8 they ran in September. There’s you 12 point shift. Of course in 2010, they were completely wrong calling the D/R split even. Republicans ran a historic blow out during that election taking 60 seats in the House. In 2008, they were probably slightly undercounting self-identified Democrats. But not this time as Pew points out in their survey. Enthusiasm among GOP voters is up. It isn’t up among Democrats. And that, one supposes, is the Pew justification for plussing the GOP on this poll.
September polls are notoriously inaccurate. Polling companies, at least those who want to continue to be taken seriously, refine their models as they approach an election. This poll appears to be an example of that. As should be obvious to anyone who pays attention, the excitement, support and enthusiasm Obama enjoyed in 2008 doesn’t exist in this election, at least not anywhere to the degree it did then. That means the ratios have changed. Whether or not R+5 is the correct weight polls should give the GOP vote remains to be seen, but it certainly makes a lot more sense than D+8, the number we “poll truthers” were questioning all along.
CATO has the news:
The Reason-Rupe September 2012 poll includes our favorite ideological questions to differentiate libertarians from liberals and conservatives. Using three questions, we can define libertarians as respondents who believe “the less government the better,” who prefer the “free market” to handle problems, and who want government to “favor no particular set of values.” These fiscally conservative, socially liberal voters represent 20% of the public in the Reason-Rupe poll, in line with previous estimates.
Among these likely libertarian voters, the presidential horserace currently stands:
Romney’s share of the libertarian vote represents a high water mark for Republican presidential candidates in recent elections.
I find it difficult to believe 20% of the “libertarian” vote would go to Obama, but whatever.
Bush pulled 70% of the libertarian vote in 2000. But that percentage dropped to 59 in 2004.
So what if Gary Johnson is included?
A pretty even split between libertarians voting for Romney and Obama (7% each).
This is all interesting for a number of reasons. One is that many libertarians like to argue that “true” libertarians would never vote for any Republican or Democrat. Yet when you look at the numbers, and unless you’re willing to exclude about 97% of self-identified libertarians, that’s just not at all the case. In fact, in the last two presidential elections (2004 and 2008), third party candidates have pulled a whopping 3% of the libertarian vote. Yeah big “L” libertarian party types, it’s not selling. A lot of that has to do with “principles” which simply aren’t realistic (you know, like isolationism and open borders? Both have been overcome by events in case you haven’t noticed.). Once the Libertarian party begins dealing with the problems and realities of the here and now, and not how they’d like it to be, you may see those numbers change.
Until then, the lesser of two evils prevails. The reason for the record break this year? Probably because most libertarians understand that Obama and the Democrats pose the biggest internal danger to freedom and liberty this country has faced in quite some time. Is Romney/Ryan the panacea? Are you kidding? But first you have to remove the danger. Then you can work on repairing the damage.
And it won’t be quickly done as all of us know. I look for many “ones step forward, two steps back” days even after Obama is sent into retirement.
But one thing is for sure – this nation cannot afford another 4 years of Barack Obama.